Getting Down & Dirty With Your Dating Values
Are you single and frustrated with your dating efforts? Tired of spending all your hard-earned cash at the local coffee shop for what seems like the millionth blind date? Or maybe things have been going smashingly with your new guy until he pulls the rug out from under you just as you've started to open your heart to him. The scenarios are endless in the gay metropolis of dating, but the one thing that's for certain is that there's no magic formula on how to snag your Mr. Right.
There are lots of things you can do to promote your chances of success, however. And this article will elaborate on one such secret that might help clear the confusion and point you in the right direction as you continue your quest for a compatible boyfriend. Sometimes pure luck is at play in meeting a quality man, like being in the right place at the right time. But more often than not, a lot of preparation is needed to date smartly. A good mixture of self-awareness and interpersonal skills is just what the doctor ordered, as you would be wise not to be led solely by your physical attraction meter when screening for potential dating prospects. Your first step before you ever set foot into the dating jungle is to have a solid sense of identity--to know who you are and what you're looking for. Without this knowledge, you'll likely wander and connect aimlessly with men crowding the dating pool who have little in common with you except being single as well (and sometimes not even that!). Your time and heart are too precious; so don't waste them in a pursuit that's not armed with some kind of map or guidepost to help lead the way. And that's where your values come in!
Values are the things that are most important to you in your life, what you hold most dear. They give your life meaning and they are the essence of who you are and what you believe in. They are a core piece of your identity, the filler for your sense of self--your internal nucleus of sorts. Without values, life would feel empty, depressing, and stale. There would be no sense of purpose or motivation.
Values act as guiding principles for our behavior. Ideally, you will behave and make decisions based on what you believe in. They help to keep us on track and define a sense of integrity. For example, if you value family, you will likely be proactive in your participation in family functions and in being a solid support person for them in times of need.
So what are your values? An important tip about values first: When we are born, we are raised being taught all kinds of "shoulds" for how we ought to live our lives from our caregivers, school, peers, media, church, and society. When we become adults, however, we are now able to choose which values really fit who we are. As gay men, we've all been shamed for our same-sex feelings and it is actually through the coming-out process that we are able to assimilate a more positive identity through our own choosing and hard work, rejecting the homophobic values that all individuals in our society internalize initially. Coming-out is an example of the value you place in taking pride of your true self. So in identifying your values, it will be important for you to distinguish between what's truly something you believe in versus what could potentially be someone else's expectations of you. Whose voice do you hear? Your own? Mom or Dad? Church?
Another bonus tip about values: Typically, when we suffer from guilt or low self-esteem, we have likely compromised a value. When we don't act in accordance with our values, when our behavior is not in alignment with what we hold golden, our self-esteem suffers. When our behavior and values match, we feel good about ourselves and have achieved integrity and responsibility.
Assignment: Take out a sheet of paper and make an exhaustive list of your personal values. Once you've completed them, go back over your list and make sure they are genuinely your values and not somebody else's "shoulds" that you're still carrying with you. It might also be helpful to prioritize them in order of importance to you. Examples of values might include: monogamy, honesty, passion, spirituality, justice, contribution, forgiveness, freedom, education, personal growth, etc.
If you have a hard time figuring out what your values are, just look at how you spend your time. This screams volumes in terms of what's important to you. Or look at your emotional reactions to things as an additional gauge and look below the surface to see what value has potentially been triggered.
Your Values & The Pursuit of A Partner
So what's this all got to do with dating? Everything! The most successful couples in relationships have shared values. Nothing provides the sustenance and glue to a partnership than values; everything else pales in comparison. You and that guy sitting across from you at the coffee shop may be totally attracted to each other (but he's SO hot!), but if you don't have comparable visions or philosophies of life, you'll be setting yourselves up for tons of conflict and disappointment.
Having knowledge of your values will help you screen potential dating partners much more succinctly than just "winging it." Knowing what your needs are for a partner and a relationship are expressions of your values and provide the map to finding Mr. Right. If you desire monogamy and he states he only engages in open relationships, this is a values clash and you won't likely be a good fit as lovers. Or maybe you oppose drug usage and he admits to regular marijuana consumption. Turn away, no matter what your hormones are saying! It's important to not fall into the trap of thinking you can change another person or that maybe someday they'll have a change-of-heart.
Your Values & Your Dating Behavior
Solid self-awareness of your values not only helps you weed out guys who would be totally wrong for you from the real potentials, but they also can help you stay centered and true-to-form when meeting and getting to know men. It boggles my mind sometimes how heartless people can be in the dating world, treating each other with such disrespect and cruelty. From the guy who says he'll call you and never does, to the guy who talks trash behind your back to all his friends, to the guys online who don't reciprocate trading pictures as promised or log off at the last minute just before you're ready to make plans to meet...These are all but just a few examples of the ways we gay men treat each other when we should be supporting each other.
Values sometimes seem to have gone by the wayside, but if you can bring them front-and-center in all your interactions, you'll feel much better in your own skin and won't have to experience any unnecessary guilt. If you value honesty, make sure that you politely let the guy on your first date know that you didn't really feel that it was a match. If you say you're going to call him tomorrow, make every effort to do so. Living your values gives you a sense of authenticity and an aura of confidence that is very attractive.
So there you have it! One of the secrets of successful dating explained that so many people tend to think would be a no-brainer, but is so often overlooked and taken for granted. By being yourself, expressing your true sense of self in every word and action, you're showing the world the canvas of your identity and will increase your odds of attracting other similar guys. And by being true to your values, you will be less prone to molding yourself around a relationship with a man just for the sake of being in one because you're making conscious decisions to honor your beliefs and what's important to you to be happy. It is hoped that this will be a good jump-start for your quest for an equal, and remember---values are sexy!
© Brian L Rzepczynski
Brian Rzepczynski, Certified Personal Life Coach, is The Gay Love Coach: "I work with gay men who are ready to create a roadmap that will lead them to find and build a lasting partnership with Mr. Right." To sign up for the FREE Gay Love Coach Newsletter filled with dating and relationship tips and skills for gay singles and couples, as well as to check out current coaching groups, programs, teleclasses, and the self-help book he co-authored, "A Guide to Getting It: Purpose & Passion," please visit http://www.TheGayLoveCoach.com Thank you!